The last two weeks have kind of blended together seamlessly. I found the days of the first week somehow too trivial to fill a blog post with. So there’s no overview of week 6. Although I did snap a few pictures that were taken while jogging in Central Park.
Spring is making its presence felt. Snowdrops, eranthis and crocuses are blooming and the days are unusually tepid. Deceptively tepid.
Aside from the runs in Central and Riverside Park that I’ve been doing from time to time, my life has been mostly in the studio. I spent a day installing various things with Alex, a handyman and friend of us. Blinds in the windows, shelves and very important: my work table for painting. I also got boards in a hardware store to stretch my papers and was finally ready to paint the first pictures.
In the last days my own art was in the foreground and I didn’t visit any museums. I enjoy painting in my studio so much. It feels just as good as in Basel and the work just makes me happy.
When you say to New Yorkers that you’re going to New Jersey, they usually roll their eyes and say things like “better you than me” or “couldn’t you cancel the appointment?”. Granted, it’s a completely different world and just a few minutes train ride away. But for me, New Jersey was my first fix here in the US and I have fond memories of it. My mother-in-law’s house and her garden with the magnolia tree, where we spent many years when she was still alive. The Jersey Shore in the summer, the Christmas decorations in the winter.
New Jersey – or the part of New Jersey I know, embodies for me the other image that exists of America. A countless string of towns, streets and houses that all look the same to me. The fence-less front yards overgrown only with grass, plastic fences hiding pools and plastic clad houses with plastic decorations in the windows and Good bless America flags on the doors. I would have been totally lost had I been abandoned 1500ft from my mother-in-law’s house to go home.
I have often wondered if the people who live there have different senses, see the world through different filters. I have tried to accept their point of view, to memorize the streets and to find something beautiful in the shiny white plastic fences. Or the, in my eyes, lovelessly furnished restaurants where we celebrated baptisms and birthdays and where the portions were so big that even if you took the rest home, you would still be full for three days. I never made it. So New Jersey remains a phenomenon for me, something exotic, foreign, yet dear to me. Not least because New Jersey brought me the most important person in my life.
What really bugs me when we take a train to New Jersey are the windows on NJTransit trains. They are either totally filthy or totally scratched. Or both. Anyway, it always takes away the great experience that train travel brings: looking out the window and daydreaming…letting the scenery go by and imagining what it used to look like here or what the people in the houses might be doing right now. Besides, you want to see something of the country when you’re traveling. At least I do. The low winter sun makes the whole thing even more intense. Nevertheless, I tried to photograph something and was able to get something positive out of it. Photos that can only guess what is passing by outside, while the express train whistling through the urban landscape. Filtered New Jersey reality.